If you are new to the grow your own thing and you went out into the big world of buying established plant clones, we have to warn you off of throwing them in with your self-started seedlings. If you have ever had a fish tank, you’ll know that a new fish coming from an unknown location can introduce a disaster to a formerly happy tank. The same can happen with a closed system of homegrown medical marijuana. This is not the old-timey ‘throw some seeds down and see what happens’ world of pot growing. We’d like to share some tips we found to prevent a disaster:

  1. While it might be a bit much for the home grow, the best thing is to use a tissue culture to see if every plant is clean. This is called meristem culture.
  2. If this seems a bit involved (and it is), an off-site quarantine is the next-best option. Some folks put the new plants close to, but not in with the existing grow. That’s a bit of a risk and we are not fans of this. If you have a pest or disease problem on the new plant, you’ll infest your entire grow.
  3. If you can do so, have new plants lab tested for powdery mildew and for pests. Check for eggs, larvae and fecal matter. Broad and Russet mites can destroy your entire grow operation.
  4. If you do have an outbreak, the ONLY option is an entire destruction of all plants, disinfect your entire grow space and start over, AFTER you have saved specimens (IF that is even possible).
  5. Another infection entry point can be fresh air intake. Oklahoma is chock full of bugs. Use bugs screens at minimum and UV sterilizers are a better bet. HEPA filters are also recommended for incoming air. Filtering recycled air in closed areas will control mildew and mold.
  6. If you are using recycled wastewater or catching rainwater, watch your pH and nutrient loads as well as the amount of pollution coming in with the water. You might be saving a few dollars but it makes no sense. This method could make your medical marijuana useless on the open market if it carries heavy metals, pollutants or high levels of pollutants/acidity. Be sure to filter/sterilize your water by reverse osmosis or by using a UV sterilizer.
  7. Do not dispose of anything from your grow. Sort, dry and pack away everything, making sure that everything is perfectly dry before storing out of heat and light. Oxygen-free containers at sub-zero temperatures are your best bet for more than six months of storage.
  8. You do not need a Biology degree to do this, but you DO need to be willing to learn from past mistakes, ask questions, use common sense, read books and take notes on past successes and failures.

We tell you this horrible story not to scare you (well, maybe we want to scare you a little), but your entire season can go up in a matter of days from introducing one plant without the proper precautions. It is often the poorly thought-out decontamination plans that get you, not the grow plans and perfect lighting, fertile soils and humidity.

Next Month:

GENETICS. How to get what you want from your plants to get the end result you were hoping for.

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